Factors That Led Outbreak Of First World War History Essay


The causes of the Great War have been studied for decennaries and “ continued to present ambitious inquiries ” . Nationalism, imperialism, Darwinism, militarism, arm races, to call a few, have been discussed as the causes. This paper will discourse two well-known factors that led to the war. The confederation web that involved in European international relation get downing decennaries before the eruption and the crises that led the powers near to the war prior to 1914.

European foreign policies and confederation system

European order of power was changed dramatically after the fusion of German Empire and the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71 in which France lost two states, Alsace and Lorraine, to Germany. German quickly developed industrial and military power became “ possible for destabilising the balance power in Europe ” . However, in 1971-90, under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck ‘s leading, Germany was success in avoiding direct struggle with other powers. In fact, Germany became the new “ balancer in European international relationship ” . Germany started great power activities in European international dealingss.

The first League of the Three Emperors

The diminution of Ottoman Empire in the Near East and Balkans gave an chance for other great powers, Russia and Austria-Hungary, to increase their influences in the part. Russia was taking advantage from weaken Ottoman Empire, while Austria-Hungary was doing attempt to forestall Russia ‘s enlargement to rule in the part. The two powers came into a struggle of involvement. In the average clip, Bismarck ‘s aim was to keep German place in the European freshly established order of great powers. His vision was to do friend with the neighbors in the E, Russia and Austria-Hungary, and isolate France in the West. In 1872, Bismarck implemented his end by keeping the League of the Three Emperors to convey Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia together with the chief aim to against the societal motion Marxist International. France had non recovered from the war in 1871 now confronting force per unit area from three great powers.

The Congress of Berlin

In 1875-78, tenseness between Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Near East and Balkan part culminated after Austro-Hungarian revealed its policy in south-east Europe and Russia supported five Balkan province to derive independency from Turkey. Bismarck made the move to “ stable balance between Austria-Hungary and Russia ” in the Balkan involvement by naming for the Congress of Berlin in 1878. The Congress tried to come with the understanding that was Austria-Hungary occupied the West and Russia dominated the E of former Turkish districts in Balkan.

Double Alliance and the 2nd League of the Three Emperors

However, Bismarck recognized that such an understanding could non last for long since Russia lost its portion in Balkan as a consequence of the Congress and on the other manus, Austria-Hungary, non binding down to a serious committedness, could perchance seek for support from France in the hereafter. In 1879, Germany signed the Double Alliance with Austria-Hungary. Each state would back up the other if attacked by Russia. Furthermore, Bismarck ‘s vision was still to continue the friendly relationship with both Australia-Hungary and Russia. In 1881, following the event of Czar Alexander ascended the Russian throne ; Bismarck succeeded to reconstruct the League of the Three Emperors. Germany remained being friend with both Russia and Austria-Hungary, and kept France isolated. Three imperiums agreed to remain impersonal if one of them was in war with a 4th power ; in this instance France was the chief concern.

The Triple Alliance and secret pact

In 1881, France expanded its colonial aspiration to Africa endangering involvement of Italy in this continent. Italy turned to Germany seeking for support in event of a struggle in the hereafter. In 1882, the Triple Alliance was formed between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Although the bonding with Italy in the confederation was non as strong, Bismarck at least succeeded to maximise support from one more great power to insulate France, in this instance was Italian support. More over, in 1887, Germany in secret signed the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia, which contradicted to the double confederation with Austria-Hungary, committed to stay impersonal in a future war that Russia would affect. During the clip Bismarck was taking power in 1871-90, he was a successful diplomatic architecture that helped Germany stood as a great power in cardinal Europe. Germany was in friendly relationship with its South and east neighbouring powers and kept France isolated.

Change in German foreign policy

Despite German success in its foreign policy, some historiographers argued that Bismarck ‘s creative activity stabilized struggles of involvement in cardinal Europe in short term but caused a larger war in the hereafter. Nevertheless, German foreign policy was changed dramatically by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who accessed to the German Empire throne in 1888 and dismissed Bismarck from power in 1890. Not as diplomatically adept as Bismarck, Kaiser started to neglect the well established stabilisation when Bismarck was in power. Kaiser calculated that Oklahoman or ulterior German growing of power would conflict with Russia. Germany strengthened the friendly relationship with Austria-Hungary and abandoned Russia. In turned, Russia started to negociate with France. A big sum of loan France gave Russia get downing in 1892 firmed the two state ‘s relationship. In 1894, Russian and France formed a military confederation, Dual Entente, assuring to back up each other if a war with a state in Ternary Alliance would go on. From acquiring support from Russian ( and from Austria-Hungary ) in the E to against France in the West, Germany faced two possible enemies from both sides.

Wilhelm II ‘s aspiration was to do Germany “ a topographic point in the Sun ” : German place in the universe power must reflect “ its economic predomination on the continent and its population ‘s size ” . Germany began to dispute to the universe powers.

Britain-Germany relationship

Britain had been following its isolation policy in European international relationship since its chief involvement was “ the huge worldwide imperium and the enlargement of abroad trade ” . However, the France-Russia confederation made British diplomats reconsider their policy. In Europe, France and Russia were the traditional menaces to Britain. “ Britain approached the United States and Germany for confederations ” . Sing “ American policy shapers were civil but noncommittal ” , merely “ Anglo-German pact seemed to be a possibility ” . However, Kaiser ‘s aspiration was clear that Germany was traveling to spread out non merely in Europe but besides to other parts of the universe. Germany started constructing its naval force in the late ninetiess. Britain argued “ Given that Britain had the most powerful ground forces in the universe, why Germany needed a naval forces at all ” if it was non to against the Royal Navy. Britain was obviously threatened by Germany while it was seeking to be friend with.

Britain-France Entente

In 1902, Britain allied with Japan to forestall Russian enlargement and to implement the Royal Navy in Asia confronting “ the Franco-Russia naval combination ” . The Russian-Japanese war get downing in 1904 brought Britain and France together. Both powers did non desire to contend each and realized it was indispensable to join forces. They came to an Entente understanding and settle the staying struggles in Africa. Germany felt the demand to dispute the “ confederation ” as its early province. In 1905, Germany demonstrated its naval power in Morocco. Its connotation was to derive support from Britain therefore weaken Britain-France relationship. However, seeing the aggression from Germany, the Entente even became stronger.

The Triple Entente

Britain allied with Japan in 1902 against Russia to beef up its power in the Far East. Now, it was confronting an aggressive Germany in Europe. In its computation, Britain could non attempt to back up its military power in both Asia and Europe. An confederation with Russian was the option to encircle German power. In 1907, Russia lost the war over Japan and needed more support other than Gallic. In the same twelvemonth, weakened Russia easy accepted the understanding with Britain on struggle in Persia and Afghanistan. As the consequence, the Britain-France entente now became Triple Entente with Russia freshly recruited.

Crisiss prior to the eruption of the Great War in 1914

The first Morocco crisis

Maroc before 1905 had been officially an independent province. However, in the late 19th century, “ France and Spain intervened at that place, each taking a piece ” . With the consent from Britain, Italian and Spain, France extended his control over Morocco. Although merely a few German companies were making concern in Morocco therefore Germany had “ no critical involvements in Morocco ” , Germany determined that was an chance to dispute France, hence its entente with Britain. Wilhelm II came to Morocco and made the statement that confirmed the independent position of Morocco and demanded France to counterbalance for German lost in the state. Confronting a menace of war, Algeciras Conference of 1906 was called. The consequence was summarized as “ France got what they wanted, and Germany found itself stray except for the support of Austria-Hungary ” 13.

The first Morocco crisis helped Germany realized that it could non entirely trust on Austria-Hungary and Italian was non to the full true. Furthermore, its mark was to weaken the France-Britain Entente was non archived. In fact, the entente became stronger as German now exposed as a existent menace even on non-European affairs. Russian long struggle with Austria-Hungary over Balkan now recognized the obvious scheme that was to farther procure its relationship with France and Britain.

Bosnia-Herzegovina crisis

In 1908 Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. This caused Serbia nationalist choler since a big part of Bosnian population were Serbs. The dream of the Serbs, besides known as the Great Serbia motion, in Europe was to unify all together. Russia had been besides interested in Balkan therefore had been in long struggle with Autria-Hungary. However, Russia was merely defeated the war by Japan the twelvemonth before and had non recovered. Furthermore, Austria-Hunagary was backed by Germany. For Russia “ it was a serious loss of prestigiousness ” but no action was taken. Serbia was a little province that was non strong plenty to straight confront against Austri-Hungary. However, anti-Austrian motion accelerated. For illustration, the Black Hand, which was responsible for the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in and triggered the Great War eruption in 1914, was founded and sponsored by Serbia.

The 2nd Morocco crisis

In 1911, France landed military personnels into Morocco. Germany, still had non forgotten how it diplomatically failed in 1906 Algeciras Conference, one time once more sent its conflict ship, the Panther, to Morocco and demanded France compensation. “ France resisted and Britain reacted with strong support ” . Germany eventually agreed to settle for Gallic Congo. This crisis, one time once more peal the dismay of an aggressive Germany. Russia, specially, France and Britain predicted a war would probably go on in the close hereafter. Military planning between France and Britain and arm race were accelerated.

The Balkan crisis

Nationalism motion was at extremum in Balkan in the beginning of 20th century. Under force per unit area of organisations such as Supremeists, and Black Hand, Serbia and Bulgaria settle their struggle in Macedonia to traveling frontward to against Ottoman. Russia after losing the war to Japan in 1905 and endorsing down from the Bosnia crisis in 1909 started act uponing Serb and Bulgaria to derive back its place in Balkan. In 1911, Italia attacked Ottomans in Libya. Balkan provinces determined that were the chance to wholly brush out Ottoman Empire. With encouragement from Russia, the Balkan League, a alliance consisting of Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro was formed. Ottoman was defeated in the first Balkan war in 1912 and pushed out of most of the countries in Balkan. However, after the licking of the common enemy, Bulgaria turned back to its confederations Serbia, Greece. Bulgaria could non win the war in 1913 to derive back Macedonia. In fact it lost other districts alternatively in the Peace of Bucharest.

Some historiographers argued that the Balkan crises straight caused the eruption in 1914. Serbia with two consecutive triumphs became stronger therefore Greater Serbia motion farther encouraged. Austria-Hungary had been detecting the Balkan wars and saw the demand to halt radical Serbia. Since Serbia did non follow the understanding in Bucharest to evacuate from Albania, Austria threatened to utilize force. Serbia pulled its military personnels out from Albania. Austria-Hungary learned that utilizing force was the ultimate solution to decide struggle from this. After the tryst of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia and triggered the Great War. One can reason that Austria-Hungary exercised the lesson it learned after Balkan wars.


Two major causes of the World War I have been discussed in chronological order. German Empire became challenge to other European great powers since it was founded. Bismarck had planted the seed of a larger war during two decennaries controlling German foreign policy. To insulate France, Bismarck built the Ternary Alliance. His good constructed confederation system and secret pacts helped to avoid struggle in the short tally but finally posed a greater menace. Defending an aggressive Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II ‘s leading, France, and Russia came together. Germany, accordingly, was encircled. Germany tried to divide the enemies by the moves as seen in two Morocco crises. However, its ill calculated moves had negative consequence. European powers recognized a existent menace and arm race was further increased. If the Germany-Austria confederation did non be, there might hold no such understanding between Russia, France and Britain so that when Germany declared war with Russia, France and Britain would non fall in the war. On the other manus, if was non backed up by German, Austria-Hungary might hold non attacked Serbia as it was good cognizant that a war with Russia was ineluctable. Balkan was a hot topographic point because of patriotism motion. A supposed regional war became the Great War because of the present of two opposing confederation systems.